Thursday, November 13, 2008

Isn't it Just like Being a CMA?

Today at work one of the CNA's asked me: "Isn't being an RN just like being a CMA (certified medication aide)? Anybody out there who is a nurse will know why I laughed. A CMA passes medications in a nursing home. PERIOD! That is all they are allowed to do. They take a 75 hour course (of which 25 of those hours must be in a clinical setting). Then they take a test and receive a "certification" good for 2 years that allows them to pass medication under either a LPN or an RN's license. PERIOD! Well they can help out the aides if they have time but most of them don't want to do that. They want to pass medications. PERIOD!

Now let me tell you what an RN does. First of all the shortest period of time it takes to go to school to get a license is 2 years. I have never known anyone who can do it in that short period of time. Mine took 3 years as I was also working 3 part-time jobs and being the single mom to 2 small children. (And I made straight A's with the exception of one C..not to brag). And that was 25 years ago...At the end of that three years of school we had to sit for a 2 day long testing at the state capitol (they now take the test on a computer) which if you survived that ordeal you deserved to be a nurse.

Now let me tell you about my duties as an Rn in a 124 bed skilled nursing facility. I am usually the only RN on my shift. There may be ( on a good day) 2 other LPN's. We usually have 2 medications aides taking care of the 22 residents that live in the Traditional homes; one or two other CMA's and approximately 11-12 other certified nurse assistants (CNA) scattered throughout the home. Now my job as the RN is to supervise all of this staff. In addition to that I am responsible for the 25-26 residents that live on my unit. There I pass all the medications for this 8 hour period; do all the charting; call doctors; talk to family members and visitors about their loved ones; do all the treatments (breathing treatments, bandage changes, eye drops, blood glucose monitoring.etc) On top of these duties in my unit only, I am available to help the other 5 units in case of emergencies or to solve other problems that may crop up.Now if that isn't enough I also must take all call-ins (as when you call in that you are not going to come to work the next shift or the next day you must talk to a nurse) and make up the schedules for the next shift. It is my responsibility to try to find coverage for those who call in. And I do that while answering the phone that seems to always be ringing and transferring calls or taking messages. We do not have anyone that answers the phones after 5 pm Monday-Friday and no one is there on weekends at all. Now have I covered everything. No wait a minute....what about the toilet that is over-flowing...wait the nurse will run get a plunger (because for some unknown reason those are kept behind a locked door that is on the same key ring that the narcotic key is kept on) grab a mop to mop up the floor as we also have no housekeeping staff on this shift after 5pm.

Now am I done....nope...I am the only one who can sign for and check in medications when they arrive on my unit. And then I get to put them all away.

Now I am wait...who is it that the CNA comes to tell...Mr. Johnson has a temp of 102F...Mrs Brown is on the floor...Mrs Gray has some funny smell coming from under her belly flap...Janie said that I work too slow!....Billy told me to shut up...Kelly was supposed to work for me tomorrow and now she says she is not going to...Mrs. Taylor won't eat..

I doubt that I am now done. I am sure that I have left something out of this list of things that I do in a typical 8-hour shift. But in answer to the question that was asked to start this post....nope, an RN is not just like a CMA...go to school, become an RN, come on back to work here and let me know what you think.


  1. she's lucky she did not say that in front of a bunch of RN's or she might have gotten lynched!

    Ha even when I was a CNA and Nurst Tech I knew the difference.

    Ask her where that CMA license will get here in a Hospital?????

    No where that's where!

  2. Paula I am so glad I retired. I don't know how I kept up all those years. I don't know how you do it. It's an insane job. I would love to work with patients again but they just put to much on an RN's sholders. It's really to much!


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